South Carolina HBCU Board Reinstates Fired President

The South Carolina State University board of trustees on Thursday reinstated Dr. George E. Cooper as the school’s president, less than three weeks after dismissing him by not renewing his contract.

The university announced that the board rehired Cooper with a vote of 8 to 5, reversing the board’s June 15 vote of 7 to 4 that dismissed the former U.S. Agriculture Department administrator. The board’s reinstatement action coincided with the arrival of new members and the departure of two members whose terms had expired.   

Thursday’s vote came just three days after the board appointed Greenville lawyer Merl Code to serve as interim president. Code’s interim appointment was revoked by the board on Thursday.

Before the June 15 action, Cooper had been under fire from faculty and trustee board members for what has been described in news reports as poor financial and administrative leadership. Cooper became the South Carolina State University president in July 2008.

Upon his reinstatement, Cooper released a statement to the university community, promising to meet the school’s challenges.

“I know that these are emotional times for everyone, but know that as we come together to face challenges, we open new opportunities for S.C. State University. I am committed to meeting these challenges as president,” Cooper said in his statement.

During the new fiscal year, Cooper plans to focus on increasing enrollment, upholding a connection with state government to increase the school’s state appropriation, and improve the entire mission and vision of the institution.

“Our critical needs now are to stabilize our budget as we seek increased revenue streams and find ways to increase fundraising from alumni and the public and private sectors. It is critical that we build upon traditional partners and identify new partners willing to invest in our university,” Cooper noted in his statement.